Audi R8 auf der Landstraße

A million kilometers on the speedometer

On the race tracks of Europe with the Audi R8

Nardo R8. The name on the car plate is striking. Someone that names his car after a race track in Apulia, has to have a special connection to it. Like the American Erik Dietz. Where his love for the R8 comes from and why he wants to put a million kilometers on the car’s speedometer.

Erik Dietz next his greatest passion: his Audi R8 called Nardo R8. Together with his car, the American toured different race tracks in Europe.

At the Nürburgring, Erik can’t quite grasp it. The 27-year-old is quite busy with driving a few rounds on the North Loop with his own car. Europeans just shrug their shoulders at that. But Erik lives near San Diego in California and had his Audi R8 shipped to the old continent for this exclusive drive.

Just to experience the “green hell”? “Yes, but not exclusively, I’m going to visit a couple of race tracks, since I’m already here”, Erik grins while displaying his pearl-white teeth come to light.

The huge dream – a self-owned Audi R8

Cars are his life. They always have been. When he saw the movie “Ironman” back in 2008, he knew that he wanted to own a R8 one day. His friends didn’t take him seriously, his family had trouble feeding him. But Erik isn’t easily discouraged, he studies and works more than his class mates. During his time in high school, he falls in love with a brand that is quite different than the other premium manufacturers – sporty, exclusive and equipped with a unique history. “Audi not only had a lot of success on the race track early on, but also aside the track in rally sport. That’s what I still find fascinating”, he says. Especially the win at the Pikes Peak Race in 1987, the Trans-Am Series 1988 and the IMSA successes a year ago, still impress him today.

Erik Dietz steht vor Audi R8

Erik Dietz has been a huge Audi fan since high school.

Success motivates you. The same is true for Erik Dietz. In his early 20s, he founds his first companies, focuses on tutoring and business contacts. In 2010, he buys his first Audi for customer meetings. “The Audi A5 drives sportily, but doesn’t strike out, and thus makes it an ideal business car”, he says explaining his decision back then. The brand sporting the understatement continues to grow on him and fits his lifestyle well.

Why it had to be an Audi R8 with a manual transmission for Erik

Business is booming and in 2015, Erik is able to fulfill his dream – buying an Audi R8 in nardo grey with a 4.2 V8 and a six-speed manual transmission. “Even though automatic transmission or dual clutch transmission gear up faster, I personally prefer the manual transmission. Because then I’m one with the car, I am a part of it, because it continuously challenges me. That’s what I love”, the American says. The R8 is the perfect symbiosis of sportiness, design, mid-mounted engine, everyday suitability and a lot of soul.

Originally, he wanted to drive across European race tracks 3 years ago, after collecting his car from the Audi plant. But his father fell ill and Erik decided to fly back and take care of him. With the European tour still lingering at the back of his mind.

He began with the preparations last year, found a sponsor in Michelin and set up an extensive European tour within the course of eight months. On the agenda? The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Nürburgring, the Hockenheimring, the Circuit Zandvoort, Spa, Nardo and the Michelin test location as well as numerous European cities.

Audi R8 Frontansicht
Out and about with the Audi R8 in Europe – that's another thing Erik Dietz can check off his bucket list.

A look at the balance sheet: 120 track days and 180,000 kilometers in three years

“The tour is the working through my bucket list – my absolute dream – and that with my own car”, he says and grins. “I love road trips, love to be out and about, I can call people, listen to music or just enjoy driving silently. When the V8 purrs behind me, I feel super good.”

Nummernschild NARDO R8
Erik Dietz perpetuates the Nordschleife on his Audi R8.

But his R8 isn’t just any R8. It’s the last built R8 with a manual six-gear drive. But Erik doesn’t go easy on his sports car, drives with it daily. If he has to, up to 20 hours per day. The two-seater traveled 117,000 miles – around 180,000 kilometers – in the last three years, received regular inspection, fresh oil and a couple of new wheels – thanks to around 120 track days. The American modified his car in a few details, among them racing brakes, adjustable dampers with separate tanks, an air system, wheels and a security cage. Cling film protects the lacquer from rock fall. The rest stayed in series condition. “Engine and gear work fantastically, there is nothing to improve.“, he says.

A million kilometers on the clock

The reason for his tours surely stems from his love for cars. “But I want to show that the Audi isn’t only fast on the race track, but is also absolutely reliable and functions as an everyday car. That’s the reason why I want to reach one million on the clock together with the car”, Erik says. And he means business.

He packs his self-developed rack on the rear window for long tours, puts a box on the roof and stores his luggage. “When I’m alone, the room in the car is enough. But if my girlfriend tags along and we’re on tour for a couple of days, it gets too cramp”, he says.

The next goal? To visit all the U.S. states

After the Europe trip, Erik wants to ship his sports vehicle to New York and then drive across the USA to California. Next year, he’s planning trips to Alaska and Hawaii. “Then I’ll have visited all of the 50 federal states with my car. Isn’t that awesome?”, he asks and answers the question himself by displaying a huge grin. “Audi vehicles can be fast anywhere. I also drive through gravel with my R8, I have already driven across the Death Valley with it. It worked just fine”, he says. He uses his pick-up truck for hard terrain.

Audi R8 während der Fahrt

For Erik Dietz, the Audi R8 is the perfect symbiosis of sportiness, design, mid-mounted engine, everyday suitability and a lot of spirit.

As Erik parks the Audi after a couple of rounds on the Nürburgring, the mid-mounted engine crackles like an open fire. The air above the brakes flickers. “Wow, the Nordschleife is even better than everybody said, the ultimate dream route. So long and so different as well”, he says. “I will need some more lives to drive it perfectly.” And there are still a few years left up until his millionth kilometer. 😉

Fascination Audi

Erik Dietz has fulfilled his big dream of owning an Audi R8. In the first three years, he drove a total of 180,000 kilometer with the sports car. His ambitious goal? Driving one million kilometers.

One million on the speedometer: That's what Erik Dietz wants to achieve with the Audi R8.
Erik Dietz and his Audi R8 during a drive in the Audi driving experience center in Neuburg.
After his trip to Europe, Eric is aiming for his next big goal – visiting all 50 U.S. states.

One million on the speedometer: That's what Erik Dietz wants to achieve with the Audi R8.


Erik Dietz and his Audi R8 during a drive in the Audi driving experience center in Neuburg.


After his trip to Europe, Eric is aiming for his next big goal – visiting all 50 U.S. states.

Audi R8 V10
Audi MediaCenter

Audi R8

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Consumption and emission figures of vehicles on this page:

Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 13.4 – 12.6; Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 306 – 287. Figures on the fuel consumption and the CO2-emissions vary in case of given ranges depending on the used combination of wheels/tires. //